3 Women's Diabetes Health Issues You May Not Know
The effect of diabetes on a woman’s health can be tough. A combination of factors play a part and will impact different women to varying degrees across their lives. Research indicates that some of the issues women face include depression, a loss of libido and greater levels of disordered eating.
Let’s take a look at some of these challenges and ideas on how to lessen their impact.
1. The link between Depression and Diabetes
Depression is a lot more than sadness. It’s a serious mental health condition that affects how you feel about yourself and your life. The link between depression and diabetes is not yet fully understood, and research is ongoing. What is clear is that depression can affect the way you manage your diabetes and, in turn, your physical health. It may lead to you avoiding checking your blood glucose levels (BGLs), missing medical appointments and feeling a lack of motivation to manage diabetes. Depression often co-exists with anxiety.
If you are feeling depressed it is important to ask for help from your GP. They can help identify whether you have depression and offer treatment or a referral to a specialist. Simple self-care ideas that may help ease some symptoms include making sure you reach out to talk to one person every day. If this is difficult, find a diabetes support group to join. Exercising might be the last thing you feel like doing but just moving your body every day has a powerful effect on your brain and releases feel-good hormones. Eating well balanced meals and avoiding too much caffeine and alcohol can also help keep your mood even. Finally, getting enough sleep and being kind to yourself are essentials aspects to focus on. If you’re struggling with sleep try these tips for getting a good night’s rest.
2. How Diabetes Affects Women's Sexual Health
We hear about men’s sexual problems much more frequently than women’s. But sexual issues are just as common for women with diabetes as they are for men with diabetes. A decrease in libido, or loss of sex drive is one of the most common. Several factors can be the cause: medication, lack of energy and menopause may all play a role. Additionally, emotional health issues such as stress, anxiety and relationship distress, can also cause a loss of libido.
If this is a concern for you, start by finding the cause. Fluctuating glucose levels or the presence of diabetes-related health problems may leave you fatigued and with less interest in sex. Keeping your glucose levels in your target range may improve your mood and libido.
If you are diagnosed with neuropathy, a diabetes-related complication, this can lead to vaginal dryness making, sexual intercourse painful and difficult. There are many preparations on the market that can be used to increase lubrication.
Another consideration is fear of hypoglycaemia during intercourse, as this may become a deterrent. Checking your glucose level, keeping glucose close at hand or having some extra carbohydrate before or after intercourse can reduce your risk of hypoglycaemia. Importantly, it may help ease some of your fears.
It is important to talk to your GP. They can check your blood glucose levels, fine tune or manage your medications and possibly suggest lifestyle changes that will help your reach target blood glucose levels all which can assist in a happier sex life.
3. Disordered Eating for Women with Diabetes
Does eating food cause you some anxiety? If you often find yourself in a battle with food thinking that some are good, while others are bad; or if deciding what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat makes you depressed or feel ashamed, you may be experiencing disordered eating.
If so, you are not alone. It is estimated that 40% of people living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes experience disordered eating behaviours.
Living with diabetes places a lot of focus on food, weight and body image and in the past 30 years there has been growing awareness that people living with diabetes have higher rates of disordered eating and eating disorders. These include restricting food, skipping meals, excessive or compulsive eating or exercise, binge eating, laxative/diuretic abuse, vomiting and/or reducing or omitting insulin doses for the purpose of weight control.
Disordered eating can lead to low, and high, BGLs. It can impact your wellbeing and increase your risk of complications. If you are struggling with your eating, please reach out for support and guidance from your GP or diabetes healthcare team. You can also contact the Butterfly Foundation for more information.
Health and Support for Women with Diabetes
There’s a lot to contend with as a woman with diabetes but there is help and support available. Reaching out to your state or territory diabetes organistion is a great first step. They will put you in touch with a community of people living with diabetes, health professionals, support groups and educational classes and programs. The NDSS also offer lots of fantastic resources.
Products for Women Living with Diabetes
All women heroines living with Diabetes need a little retail therapy once in a while so we’ve listed some products and to help you feel well and stay well.
New in-store is the latest offering from CSIRO - the Women’s Health & Nutrition Guide. This thoughtful, evidence-based health guide provides valuable and practical information for women throughout all ages and stages of life. It offers education to support you to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle behaviours and adapt to your changing needs. It is full of healthy meals, quick and easy food-prep hacks, and strategies to adapt the same recipe for toddlers, children, teenagers and adults. For this and all our other books, follow this link.
Fed up of carrying around all your diabetes equipment in a scruffy bag? Treat yourself to a smart new case. We have a range of cases in several sizes and designs. They come with a protective hard shell to shield all your delicate accessories from impact, and fit easily into a backpack or work bag. And don’t forget summer is just around the corner. It’s the perfect time to grab yourself a new cooling wallet. Forget the boring, plain wallets of the past and check out some of the stylish new arrivals. There’s everything from vibrant prints, to pastel colours and the sleek, neutral tones of slate, tan and black.
Diabetes is the gift that keeps giving - and dry hands are just one more thing to add to the list. But don’t live with pain and discomfort. DU’IT has just released a new collection of moisturising hand creams that will restore dry and calloused skin to soft, healthy and radiant. Enriched with vitamin E and sweet almond milk, and free from parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin and propylene glycol these hand creams instantly revive your hands, promote healing and guards against premature ageing. In addition to the original formation you can now snap up rose and green tea scented creams. Now that’s something to clap about.